Newcastle United head into the weekend with Champions League aspirations firmly intact thanks to a 2-0 victory over Champions League finalists Chelsea midweek. Once again, it is a match in which both teams have everything to play for with City's victory over Manchester United putting them in the drivers seat for their first title in 44 years. The only way to ensure the title, however, is to take the full 6 points from their remaining 2 matches. It is another match that not many will be seeing Newcastle winning... but these situations have frequently brought out the best performances from the Toon this season, so the question becomes: Do we see "Proving the naysayers wrong" Newcastle or "Leaky sieve defense" Newcastle?
Still a couple of days yet before the match, so let's pass some more time with the stories of the day. After the jump, nearly a story regarding every starting XI player, a "scouting report" of Newcastle United by the Manchester Evening News and looking ahead just a tiny bit at questions that will face the Toon past the end of the season.
Pardew said ahead of the next test against the Citizens: "You can’t say we predicted the impact he’d have. "But we knew he was a good player. "The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in the world and he was top scorer there for a poor team." Cisse’s (above) record of 13 goals looks even more impressive given 31 of his shots for the Magpies have found the net meaning his shooting accuracy is the highest in the Premier League at 65% with 42% conversion rate according to EA Sports Premier League Player Index.
It has truly been a dream start (and continuation, to be fair) for Papiss Cisse on Tyneside, and with Demba Ba looking closer and closer to breaking out from his goal drought we possess a strike force that truly can strike fear in an opposing defense. Prior to the season, the question was "where are the goals going to come from" wondering if Newcastle had goals in them. Now, the question is "where are the goals going to come from" wondering which of the Necastle front three are going to grab a goal.
Following Newcastle's 2-0 win at Chelsea last night, Man United fan Jordan McDonald took to Twitter to place a cheeky wager with Toon hot shot Demba Ba, posting: "you score the winner against city and I'll get you on the back off my manchester united top # dealornodeal # BA19" To which Demba Ba simply replied: 'Deal."
Demba seems to be confident that he is turning the corner as well...
For years Man City were runaway leaders of British football’s Comedy League, failing spectacularly as they tried to keep pace with rivals Man United and somehow even managing to drop into the third flight along the way. Now it’s as if going to the likes of Macclesfield and Bury for their local derbies not that long ago didn’t happen. Yet those cocky Mancs will head to Level 7 this weekend thinking they’re Real Madrid.
Lee Ryder really doesn't like Manchester City. At all. This read amused me greatly.
He told the Chronicle: "We have been together all season as one and we must finish that way. "We know the prize is still there for us. "Beating Chelsea was one of the biggest results since I’ve been here, but now we have to find another against Man City."
I really don't know where this season is going to end up... we know European football will be back at St. James' Park next season, and that is way more than anybody dared dream for this season. It is easy to expect that we will fall by the wayside like the pundits have been predicting all. season. long... but then you look at the season-long evidence and there is enough there to give you hope. Do you dare grab onto that hope?
Papiss Demba Cisse dominated the headlines for his two stunning goals, but there were outstanding performances all over the park. Cabaye was again superb alongside midfield partner Cheik Tiote, and his form for Newcastle has been watched closely by Blanc, who, up to now, has overlooked his club colleague Hatem Ben Arfa, who also caught the eye. "We’re still in the same position, and now, we have a very, very big game against Manchester City on Sunday.
Having Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote back in their best form has been major for our late-season push, but equally important has been Hatem Ben Arfa's rounding into a rather complete player. This article really isn't about HBA's France chances, but again, HBA seems like the kind of guy you'd like to have on your roster at a competition like the Euros.
"He's incredible. He's world class and to get him for that price (£9m) was amazing. He's a worthy number nine. "He gets so upset when he misses a chance in training. Sometimes, you'll see him arguing with himself for five minutes about how he missed it. "That just shows you what fantastic commitment he has. He wants to score all the time - but he doesn't score goals like that against me!"
Heh. Good ol' Tim. I call shenanigans. Papiss Cisse scores when he wants, regardless of who is in goal
Coloccini told the Chronicle: "No matter what anybody has said this season, we’ve kept fighting. "We are in the Europa League, but to play in the Champions League would be fantastic for the fans and the city. "We will fight to give this present to the fans. It’s going to be difficult. "They want to win the league, and if they are going to do that, they must beat us.
I don't know what to say on this one that I haven't already said before. I welcome the naysayers because they seem to resonate with this squad. As Alan Shearer said in yesterday's links, they'll be there next year as well. I'm ok with that.
Officially, it might be called the Sports Direct Arena – but the roar of the Toon Army is as fearsome as ever. And the St James’ Park faithful have been given plenty to cheer about this season – not least the 3-0 win against United in January. There are still few sounds as daunting as the Gallowgate End or Sir John Hall stand in full voice.
I'm not really sure there's much in this... but it was a glimpse at things from the Manchester side of things, so I went ahead and lumped it in.
Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse. All high-profile additions; all now worth significantly more than Newcastle paid to bring them to the North-East. But in a strange sort of way, that can cause its own problems. Just as there are problems if none of the signings work, so there are also issues if all of them turn out to be gold dust. And that, in a nutshell, is the dilemma that Newcastle's money men will be wrestling with all summer.
I suppose it's getting around to time to do another "Gut Check Time For Ashley" post. He made it through January without gutting the squad (much to my surprise)... can he do it again? If we sell every player who has created genuine interest in the Sky6 clubs, ugh. Granted I don't think that Ashley would sell all of them. I suppose there comes the question of whether they feel Mehdi Abeid or Dan Gosling will be ready to step in next season (despite his fits of good form this year, it looks like Danny Guthrie is as good as gone...). It's hard to see Cheik Tiote on Tyneside next year, especially if a mega-money deal is offered. I don't see Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa or Papiss Cisse leaving, but Demba Ba is a bit of a wild card. I really feel like he likes the club and the city, but a chance to be THE focus guy again might tear at him a bit. I think that pinning hopes on the Senegal connection with Cisse is tenuous at best. Let's have a first- A Links Post Poll!